Changes on tap for Americans who hunt waterfowl in Manitoba
As part of the phase-in, Americans can draw a seven-day Manitoba waterfowl license this fall but must enter a lottery for a limited number of licenses in 2024.
GRAND FORKS — Americans planning to hunt waterfowl this fall in Manitoba will be able to draw a seven-day license but must enter a lottery for a limited number of “foreign resident” licenses in subsequent years if they don’t book their trip through an outfitter, under new waterfowl regulations the province announced earlier this month.
“As part of the initial phase-in strategy for fall of 2023, Manitoba is ensuring that all applicants for the draw will receive a seven-day Foreign Resident Migratory Game Bird License,” Manitoba’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Northern Development said on its website. “In subsequent years the allocations for each license type will be determined based on license sales, hunter questionnaire data from all user groups and stakeholder input. The combination of the seven-day license and associated draw for freelance foreign resident hunters is intended to discourage visiting hunters from creating lasting systems of control that inhibit other hunters.”
The new regulations are a key component of the Waterfowl Hunting Modernization Project, a proposal the Manitoba government unveiled last fall before a 45-day comment period that ended Friday, Oct. 7.
American hunters will now have the opportunity to access the following Manitoba waterfowl and upland game bird licenses, the province said:
- Foreign Resident Upland Game Bird License: Required to hunt upland birds and can be purchased online and is subject to the same regulatory framework as resident hunters.
- Foreign Resident Migratory Game Bird License: Required to hunt migratory birds and is a seven-day license, which can be accessed either by entering a draw process or booking with a licensed outfitter.
- Foreign Resident Legacy Migratory Game Bird License: A grandfathered opportunity for qualifying foreign resident landowners or lessees of Crown land.
To qualify for the special grandfathered provisions, Americans (and other foreign residents) must have owned property in Manitoba before Sept. 1, 2022, and still own that property; be a shareholder of a corporation owning registered property in Manitoba; or be a crown land lessee. Eligible land interest holders must also have hunted waterfowl in Manitoba during the previous five years between 2018 and 2022 to qualify for the legacy license.
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The new regulations after this phase-in year will cap the number of licenses available for “freelance” American waterfowl hunters who don’t book through an outfitter, while prioritizing resident waterfowl hunting opportunities and supporting existing licensed outfitters.
“The goal of this project is to protect and maintain the ability for everyday Manitobans and Americans to access world-class hunting opportunities in the province,” a provincial spokesperson told the Grand Forks Herald. “This ability is under threat from illegal outfitting and significant land access competition.”
The new regulations don’t sit well with longtime American hunters such as Kris Moody of Pequot Lakes, Minnesota, who reached out recently to say he had emailed “various people and ministers” within the Manitoba government to protest the regulations.
Moody, who has hunted Manitoba 49 out of the last 50 years, said he also canceled planned Manitoba bear and deer hunting trips this fall and wouldn’t be buying a Manitoba fishing license, either.
“What they have approved and intend to enforce is totally ludicrous,” Moody said in an email. “U.S. hunters have poured millions into Manitoba and will be mostly locked out without using an outfitter. And the outfitter committee made up the law!
“The high cost of ammo, guns and their idiotic gun control failure decreased the number of Manitoba hunters and not American freelance hunters.”
Dick Myers of Warroad, Minnesota, who has hunted Manitoba for decades, says he never sees resident hunters in the area he hunts in the south-central part of the province.
“Over the years, I have taken several farmers’ sons hunting, but they now have families and don’t hunt,” Myers said.
During one Manitoba hunting trip about five years ago, an outfitter came from more than 50 miles away and set up in the same area without permission, Myers recalled. The outfitter “drove over wheat swaths in the field,” Myers said, much to the chagrin of the landowner.
“(Farmers) are all concerned about this,” he said. “I am 84, and my waterfowl days are about over, but I would like my grandsons to have some of the experiences I have had.”
The province will accept applications for the Foreign Resident Migratory Game Bird Licenses from June 15 through 11:59 p.m. July 15 on Manitoba’s e-licensing platform at www.manitobaelicensing.ca .
More information is available at gov.mb.ca/nrnd/fish-wildlife/wildlife/mbwaterfowl.html .